Grow Your Art Business. 8 Tips for Self-Publishing with Createspace

Createspace is a division of Amazon and offers artists and authors the opportunity to self publish and sell their work. A revelation!

It is an amazing leap in technology and has helped many creatives start and grow independent businesses.

One large perk is that your books can be sold through Amazon and are eligible for Prime and international shipping.

There are countless ebooks and articles online on how to use Createspace but I just sort of learned as I went. It's pretty user friendly and walks you through the steps needed.

It was an exciting day when I received my first proofs in the mail! 

8 Tips

Here are some random tips I can share from my experiences related to publishing my collection of coloring books and journals.

1. Have all of your content ready and photos formatted before you start working on the site.

      2.  Take advantage of their free formatted interior templates when you are building your book.

      3.  Get a sample of each cover finish. I read a lot of reviews where people didn't care for the matte covers and I ended up loving them. My customers have commented positively on them as well.

      4.  Utilize the footers in the formatted templates to easily feature your website or other contact information. In my first few books I didn't know what to do with them and deleted them all. Agh!

      5.  Have at least one other person (preferably more than one) proof everything for you. Proof  it yourself multiple times...and then one more time!

      6.  Plan your cover with the thought that your books might be displayed in a holder. For example, don't place important copy at the bottom. 

      7.  I use cover templates provided by a site called Bookow. You enter your book size and number of pages and they email you a template that is the correct size. I open it in Photoshop and build my cover design in layers right on top. All of the margins and measurements are provided for you. As of this writing, the templates are free, with a request for a small donation via Paypal toward the running of their site.

      8.  You can create your book in many different sizes but there are only certain standard sizes that can be sold through all of their sales channels. They have them listed on their site.

For me, this has been a wonderful outlet for my art. I have loved creating every book and have learned so much about all stages of publishing. You can see my collection of coloring books and journals on my Amazon Author page by CLICKING HERE and see detail of the interiors on my website by CLICKING HERE.

Have you self published a book? Did you use Createspace? Do you have additional tips that could help other artists and authors?

Until next week, 

My Heart Belongs to Canson! My 2 All Time Favorite Art Pads.

I draw something every day.
In fact, the majority of my art begins with an actual drawing. 

Generally, I draw with pencil on white paper and then use tracing paper to ink the design. 

Truth be told, I am kind of particular with the feel of drawing paper…especially with how pencil feels on it. I need a little "tooth" on the paper or I get totally creeped out. Kind of like fingernails on a chalkboard!

These are my two go-to pads that I use on a daily basis.

Canson Mix Media Sketch Pads with the turquoise cover and spiral binding

I love the texture and weight of this paper. It actually is a bit rougher on the front side and I prefer the back, so I work through the book backwards. 

The paper is a soft white and a heavier weight. It takes pencil really well and erases smoothly with a rubber eraser. The sheets are perforated, it has a large spiral, lay flat spine and a very sturdy, smooth cover.

I generally use the 7" x 10" size but I am very excited about a (new to me) 5.5" x 8.5" portable size. I think it will be great for small sketches and the option to throw it in my bag.

I have their larger size too but don't use that as much.

At the time of this writing, the best prices I found were at Walmart or via online art sites. Next would be AC Moore when they have sales. 

I found the highest prices at Hobby Lobby. In fact, the retail was double Walmart's price.

Canson Tracing Paper (with the red cover) 

I love this tracing paper.

It is a substantial weight while still being transparent enough to see what you are tracing. It is also has a consistent opaqueness, unlike some that have an uneven, cloudy look.

It’s creamy smooth and the pen just glides over the surface. It doesn’t suck in the ink which makes your pens last longer.

Bonus: I use the PITT artist pens by Faber Castell. Mostly the small size nib "S". They are smooth, dark and dry super fast, so there is less chance of smearing.

There you have it. Three art supplies that I use every day. 

What do you use? Do you have a favorite paper or pen? Please share it below.

Until next week,

3 Tips for Creating or Updating Your Website. Usually, Less is More.

So little time and so much to do. I feel like that's pretty much everybody's mantra these days. 

That is a good thing to keep in mind when you are building a website...or designing a newsletter...or creating a blog...or an Etsy shop. People want information quickly and if they don't find it quickly they will move on.

Having been in my creative career for almost 30 years I had a tremendous amount of artwork from finished jobs, personal projects, charity work, etc. When I had to develop a new website, I thought more is better. I figured that someone that might want to hire me for a job would love to know how much work I've created, even if it's not in their industry. Wrong.

It was lovingly pointed out to me that everybody's really busy and they don't have time to look through an entire website full of unrelated information. They want the information quickly and easily. I know that when I personally visit websites looking for something specific, if I see a lot of unrelated information I leave the site and move onto the next one.

So this leads me to my most important tip... "Editing"

I have a really hard time editing myself but I started to pair down and eliminate anything that wasn't directly related to this new market. 

You know what? It was actually kind of freeing and it made it much easier for me to target my website. I was able to hone in on what was important right now. Really, in the eyes of a client or customer, you are only as good as your last project. Or maybe your current one.

I realized it was important for potential clients or customers to not have to hunt for the information they needed on my website. It had to be really clear. This thought was front and center as I weeded out and edited.

My next tip is... "Keep it Simple"

One thing that helped me stay focused was limiting how many tabs or buttons I created in my website design. Then what I had as far as artwork or information had to fit with in those few tabs or it was eliminated. 

It had to be easy to navigate, clean looking, easy to update, reflect my personality and be mostly about my art.

Questions to ask yourself about your content as you build your website.

1. Doesn't it reflect me now...not in the past.
2. Is it really necessary?
3. It may be interesting to family and friends but would it be interesting to a stranger, customer or client?
4. Is it relevant to my current work?
5. Would it be missed if it was not there?
6. Does it add to what I do or does it distract from my real message?
7. How quickly can the right people find what they need?

My last tip would be... "Feedback"

Overall I'm really happy with my new site. I feel like it represents me now and it's been really easy to keep current. 

Creating it was a lot of work but having a bit of focus really helped. Also, talking to other people in my industry and getting feedback was invaluable. There are a lot of places you can reach out for constructive feedback. You can hire a consultant in your industry (which is what I did), You can post feedback requests in specialized groups on social media like Facebook, You can ask family and friends to test the ease of use and you can compare it to other sites you admire.

Do you have a hard time editing yourself? 
Do you have a website that your building or have built or want to build? 
Are you thinking about maybe trying things in a new niche market of your industry or maybe a completely new industry? 

You can visit my website and see what you think about my final product.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Until next week,

10 Tips to Combat Coloring Fatigue and Burnout

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Coloring has been moving along at a steady clip for quite a while now. Whole businesses were created, a handful of artists got very well known (and wealthy) and the masses found a readily accessible, affordable, new, creative outlet to help distress and slow down.

As with any hot new craft there is more and more and more...more supplies, more techniques, more reference material, more styles, more, more and more!

At some point people hit a wall. They don't get the same high, pleasure, satisfaction or relaxation out of the activity. In fact, it starts to make them anxious, sad, frustrated and even depressed. This thing that brought such joy and promise now seems like a chore.

Is that what is starting to happen with coloring? I've seen posts recently on social media where colorists are sharing these feelings and disappointments and even a slight amount of fear. 

I have seen a virtual explosion of finished coloring pages shared across the social media sites I frequent. Not just some but a tsunami of colored pages that are really good...especially the grayscale ones. They end up looking like portraits. 

The more that is posted, the more I think people naturally feel like they have to keep up. Keep up with the quantity, keep up with the quality or new techniques or materials or tools or number of books or number of groups you are a part's exhausting writing about, so imagine what it feels like living it. How could anyone feel creative or find joy in that suffocating atmosphere of competition? 

And you know what? I don't even know if people realize they are caught in that cycle. 

If you think your coloring passion may be waning, I have 10 suggestions that might help.

1. Simplify. Pare down your color pallette or better yet find an existing color pallette on a site like Pinterest. Or only use one type of medium...all colored pencils, all gel pens, etc...

2. Make a change. Change your subject matter...change the style of coloring art....change the level of difficulty, etc...

3. Get Social. No, not social media...actual people. Invite a friend or two over to color and chat. Share books, supplies and snacks!

4. STOP LOOKING AT OTHER PEOPLES ONLINE COLORING! Stop comparing yourself and stop thinking that everything you color has to be shared on social media. Sometimes the best coloring experiences can be in the process and not the outcome. 

5. Color with a purpose. Make a gift for a friend, to frame for a loved one, to wrap a small gift, to decoupage on something or to turn into a card. 

6. Change your prospective. Take a walk, read a book, watch a movie....remove yourself for a little while.

7. Learn something new. Try a totally new medium or coloring technique. Search the Internet for a huge amount of inspiration. 

8. Create new personal challenges. Find a new way to tackle a picture. I've seen where people draw a light grid over the entire page and then stay within the new boxes while also coloring in the lines of the original drawing. Some people limit themselves to one maybe two colors and only use shades of those. Challenge yourself and think outside the box. 

9. Does distance makes the heart grow fonder? Maybe it's time to take a break. Put away your books and tools until next season or until they call to you again.

10.Be honest with yourself. Sometimes it is just time to move on and discover another creative avenue. Know when to say when. Donate any extra supplies. There are plenty of places that would love them! Think nursing homes, doctors offices, children's hospitals, veterans hospitals. 

Have you hit that coloring wall? What do you do to break through? Why do you color?

Please share...I look forward to hearing your thoughts.